Capital Catch-Up: June 18, 2021
ICYMI: Environmental Legislation This Week
Unnecessary Anti-Voter ID Laws Make It More Difficult to Vote
A bill to tighten Michigan’s existing voter ID laws passed the Senate this week, becoming the first in Senate Republicans’ 39-bill elections package to do so. The bills, which passed along party lines (19-16), are some of the most contentious bills in the anti-voter package. Now, all three bills will be headed to House Elections and Ethics:
SB 285 would require voters to submit ID information when applying for an absentee ballot application; SBs 303 and 304 remove the option to vote by affidavit if voters don’t have or forgot a suitable ID when voting in person.
Michigan already has voter ID laws securing our elections, and there is no evidence that Michigan has any significant voter security issues; to the contrary all the data, recounts, and formal reviews have found Michigan’s elections are safe and secure. These bills will eliminate secondary options for Michiganders on Election Day and will limit voters who are unable to go in person to Secretary of State offices due to disabilities, age, or other mobility constraints.
“These anti-voter bills continue to propagate the ‘Big Lie’ and will ensure many Michigan votes will not count. We must keep this dangerous nonsense out of our state. We are too smart for this here,” said Senator Rosemary Bayer (D – Bloomfield) before the Senate took their vote on SB 285, 303, and 304.
Michigan’s Commercial PACE Bills Receive Hearing in House Energy
Two bills to expand Michigan’s existing Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program were heard this week in House Energy. C-PACE programs make available additional capital financing mechanisms for commercial projects that increase energy efficiency and renewable energy projects while saving costs and reducing pollution. House Bills 5011 and 5012, introduced by Reps. Rabhi and Brabec, would expand upon this, allowing the tool to finance additional projects related to water quality and authorizing all PACE projects for multifamily residential properties as well as newly constructed buildings.
Across the nation, C-PACE programs have successfully expanded access to energy efficiency improvements, climate resiliency projects, and water infrastructure upgrades. This legislation would give commercial property owners another tool to fund important environmental upgrades, like PFAS remediation, flood mitigation infrastructure, and lead paint removal in older businesses and apartment buildings.
Michigan LCV commends Reps. Rabhi and Brabec for their leadership on this issue and urges lawmakers in the House to support this important legislation to upgrade our buildings and protect our health.
Senate Passes Bill To Allow Budget Negotiations to Continue Past July 1st
After an especially contentious 2019 budget fight, in 2020, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill that would set a July 1st deadline for future budget negotiations. However, as this year’s July 1st deadline rapidly approaches and as the Legislature is set to take an extended summer break starting the last week of June, both lawmakers and the Governor’s team have started to prepare for a scenario where the full budget is not negotiated by July 1st.
As evidence, Sen. Stamas, the chair of Senate appropriations committee and the lead Republican on budget negotiations, introduced a bill last week that would allow the Legislature to extend the July 1st budget deadline. This Thursday, that bill unanimously passed the Senate.
Federal COVID relief dollars have likely caused a delay in this year’s budget process, as there is currently a record level of money on the table for the Governor and the Legislature to negotiate and an equal number of potential projects and programs that could receive that funding. Michigan LCV is focused on advocating for investments in our state’s water infrastructure, energy savings programs, and state parks and public lands. Here are some proposals that we are watching:
- $500 million for the MI Clean Water Plan. The MI Clean Water Plan would be a historic investment in our state’s drinking and wastewater infrastructure
- $250 million to address the infrastructure backlog at our state parks and recreation areas. Michigan’s state parks have had a backlog of infrastructure projects for years. This one-time investment will strengthen Michigan’s outdoor recreation economy and make Michigan’s beautiful parks more enjoyable and accessible for residents.
- $55 million dollars for a Filter First program, which would install water filtration systems at all schools and childcare centers in the State. Filter First is the single most cost-effective and efficient way to remove lead and other contaminants from children’s drinking water in schools and early education facilities.
- $10 million for the Green Revolving Fund and the Home Health and Safety Fund. Together, these two programs would increase energy efficiency in state buildings and in low-income homes, helping save money on energy costs and reduce emissions along the way.
Important Bill Introductions
- HB 5000-5005, introduced by Reps. Weiss, O’Neal, Thanedar, and Hammoud, would increase EGLE permitting fees for a variety of programs ahead of the fees 2021 sunset deadline. EGLE relies on these permitting fees to fund the work they do to protect Michigan’s environment and public health, and Michigan LCV supports efforts to raise additional revenue for the department.
- SB 556, introduced by Sen. Schmidt, would create the Northern Michigan Tourism and Sports Fund to promote the development of recreation facilities in Northern Michigan, specifically around sports, hunting, and fishing.
- SR 0068, introduced by Sen. Bumstead, to declare July 2021 as Michigan Wildlife Conservation Month in Michigan.